By Peter Silcock, chief executive, CCNZ.
Do you want to ensure that the people working on your sites have entry level health and safety knowledge?
If they don’t, would it be useful to know about the gaps in their knowledge so they can get the right training and development?
If the answer to either or both of those questions is ‘yes’ then a simple solution is now available – ConstructSafe testing.
ConstructSafe is run by the not-for-profit industry organisation the Construction Safety Council (CSC). Unlike many other, some quite dubious, schemes out there it is not training for the sake of it. It is simply an assessment of an individual’s entry level construction industry health and safety knowledge.
Many schemes that clients have specified in the past require people to undertake training (without knowing if it is needed or not) or to subscribe to a particular system (even though the contractor may have a perfectly good system already in place).
ConstructSafe tests an individual’s knowledge. There is no hiding in the back of a training room, hoping that you won’t be asked a question or simply nodding when someone asks you if you understand.
The test, which is based on a freely available competency framework developed by the CSC, uses visual and audio assistance which makes it accessible for people with low levels of literacy. Candidates touch/click the screen or choose from a multiple choice list. Each test includes 50 questions drawn from a larger question bank.
Over 5000 people have now been tested and the average time to take the test is 38 minutes. Using mobile test centres, the interactive internet-based testing (overseen by test supervisors) has meant that many workers have been tested onsite.
It is not however a breeze. A score of 85 percent is required to pass and to date about three quarters of people achieve that. If people don’t pass they get feedback and another chance to re-sit within one month at no cost from the CSC. In fact, a standard part of the test, whether you pass or fail, is that the system provides feedback on the areas of weakness and strength. So, even those who pass get some great information about where they can improve.
Many contractors are already seeing the benefits of the system saying that it is enabling them to better target their training budgets and customise individual training requirements. The other major benefit is that the test is faster and easier to deliver onsite so there is less downtime involved with people travelling to centralised training centres.
Strengths and weaknesses can also be analysed at a national or region-by-region level and with the right approvals the system can also provide you with overviews of groups of people, eg, companies. ConstructSafe has already generating some powerful information. For example, the testing is showing that there is confusion about some signage. We can pick that up because we can look at the pass/fail rate on particular questions. The industry can then take action to review the signs or provide more information to people onsite.
The CSC makes no apology about the pass rate. The industry is serious about improving health and safety.
ConstructSafe is a major step forward and has quickly become the civil construction standard. More clients now need to update their processes and systems to support, endorse and accept ConstructSafe.
NZTA, Wellington Water, Auckland Area DHB, Whangarei District Council – roading, and a number of other clients have committed to ConstructSafe as have our major civil contractors Fulton Hogan, Downer, Fletcher Infrastructure, HEB, CPB and McConnell Dowell.
Over the next few weeks CCNZ will be making presentations to three meetings involving many council representatives and our regional managers and branches are presenting ConstructSafe to councils all over the country.
By passing the ConstructSafe assessment workers prove that they have the base level of health and safety knowledge. It provides evidence to everyone that the individual knows how to protect their own and their workmates’ health and safety.
More importantly it empowers us all by providing information to help us better manage our health and safety.
• For further information, go to www.constructionsafetycouncil.co.nz.